Sea piracy has reached record levels with 352 attacks reported worldwide so far this year, a maritime watchdog said Tuesday, although more and more raids off epicentre Somalia are being thwarted.
The report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) hailed coordinated international anti-piracy measures by navies and commercial ships’ increased use of onboard security measures to deal with the scourge.
“Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past nine months are higher than we’ve ever recorded in the same period of any past year,” said the IMB’s director, Captain Pottengal Mukundan.
The report said that Somali pirates were intensifying their attacks and moving beyond their own coastline, including carrying out an attack “with unprecedented boldness” on a tanker at anchor in an Omani port.
But while Somali pirates carried out 199 attacks this year, up from 126 attacks for the same period in 2010, they were only successful 12 percent of the time, compared to 28 percent of the time in 2010.
“Somali pirates are finding it harder to hijack ships and get the ransom they ask for,” Mukundan said, hailing international warships’ “excellent work” in deterring pirates by patrolling the area.
“The number of anti-piracy naval units must be maintained or increased,” he said.
The report said that pirates had killed eight people so far this year and injured 41, with 625 hostages taken.
The coast of West African nation Benin is also seeing a surge in piracy, the IMB said, with 19 attacks this year compared to none last year. The navies of Benin and neighbouring Nigeria have in response launched joint patrols.